If the wines of Bergerac aren’t well known internationally, it’s not because they aren’t any good – it’s because Bordeaux’s wine merchants blocked their entry to global markets.
I’m not making this up.
In the 13th and 14th centuries, the good people of Bordeaux decreed that no wines from south-west France could be exported until all the wines of Bordeaux had been bought.
Protectionism at its best. Bergerac wines are often very similar in terms of quality, taste, varieties and winemaking methods to those of their neighbours in Bordeaux.
Even TV wine critic Jancis Robinson says most people would be hard pushed to tell the difference.
Hopefully, then, I’ll do well in class on Monday.
As part of the course, we’re studying various appellation d’origine contrôlée wines from the area. These include the Bergerac appellation (red and rosé), Bergerac Sec (dry white), Côtes de Bergerac (red and sweet whites), Rosette (sweet and dessert wines), and Saussignac and Monbazillac (both dessert wines).
While the others in the class are working out which is which, I’m home and dry. These names and places are very familiar to me.
The only thing I can’t figure out is why the Pécharmant appellation barely gets a look in, despite producing what most locals consider to be among the best wines of the region. The Château de Tiregand, Château de Corbiac and Domaine de l’Ancienne Cure (pictured) produce my favourite examples of this powerful red.
“We’re studying the wines of Bergerac this week. My holiday in south-west France has meant I could put in a little extra homework”
Of course, no trip to Bergerac would be complete without stocking up on wines to bring back. We stopped at a couple of vineyards for tastings and dropped in at a couple of wine shops for further recommendations.
We also brought back plenty of wine en vrac to see us through midweek summer evenings.
This time we weren’t constrained by having to fit our purchases into the boot of my sports car. We were travelling in a campervan.
That’s how we managed to bring back 150 litres of wine – or the equivalent of 200 bottles. As we explained at Customs, it’s all for our own personal consumption.
No wonder I have a head start in this week’s wine class.